“Gerald Durrell and Margaret Thatcher” …this is the answer to the question! Not exactly your usual “couple” are they…. But this is my answer to the second of the 2 questions everyone we meet for the first time here always asks, once they realise that we are not on holiday, we actually live here – the first is “How long have you been here?”. The answer to which now is over 30 years and the second being “why did you come to Corfu?”
So, let me explain a “short version” how my husband Andy and myself came to live on the Greek island of Corfu for over 30 years and now more than half of our lives.
Why Margaret Thatcher?..
We had been married for a couple of years and had made a lot of money buying a flat in London and then 18 months later selling it for 18,000 more than we had paid for it – doesn’t sound much but in 1988 it was like winning the lottery….. we thought “this is great! -let’s make lots more!” and bought a house, using all of our money we had saved and made and got ourselves a huge mortgage – then the market crashed and along with it lots of peoples, not just ours, lives did the same.
At the time a lot of it was blamed on the government [hence Margaret Thatcher being named] and as we had chosen a flexible mortgage, so our mortgage in 3 months tripled…. Andy was working 3 jobs and I had 2 to try and keep the house, until one day we were literally passing each other in the hallway and just looked at ourselves and said – “this is crazy we are living like maniacs trying to keep this house” ….
Why Gerald Durrell ?….
We had a credit card that had 300 pounds left on it, we went into a travel agent and told them we don’t care really where we go we just want to go somewhere for a week that is hot where we can think what to do about our lives – so the agent said “Corfu”?? And I said “ohhh Durrell country [I had read the famous “My Family and other animals” while in school] – yes please!” and we ended up in the Messonghi Beach Hotel in Messonghi, southern Corfu in 1988…. hence why Gerald Durrell is also named as my answer!
It was not the best place in Corfu [It has been overhauled since then!] but it did the trick, we ate, we slept, we lay in the sun [even though it was October!] we drank, I cried and we talked and we decided that we were young, we both had an education in the Catering industry [how we met] and there was a big world out there that needed feeding one way or another so our talents should find us some work, somewhere, somehow…
So, by the last day we were quite positive, we were going to go back, give the bank the keys to the house, and walk away but not with as heavy hearts as we had been feeling!
On the last day of our stay in Corfu, we, of course, had a horrid night time flight and had to vacate the room still by 11 am so were hanging around…. We chose a nice looking little taverna for an “early bird” supper to fill the time. As we asked for the bill at the end the owner came out and got chatting and asked what we did – I was a restaurant manager for my main job and Andy was a Head barman – so we told her and chatted about options for work, etc and she mentioned with our qualifications and experience we would easily get work in Corfu and then she left to tend to another table……
So we sat a little longer chatting about “Hmmm maybe Corfu would be a good start to our round the world catering tour”………. As we were thinking to get up and wander around until our pick-up time the owner came back, looked at Andy and said: “Would you believe my barman has just told me he won’t be here next summer, would you like a job?”
And that was how we came to live here and the beginning of our life in Corfu…….